Furniture and home decor rental services are here to make moving suck less
There has never, in the history of the human language, been a conversation about moving that has not involved at least one person proclaiming that moving is the “woooooooooorst.”
But honestly, it’s true. Packing up your entire life into a bunch of boxes and schlepping them to a different location, only to have to unpack them with Tetris-level skill to fit into your new space is a particular kind of exhausting (and not to mention, expensive) hell. Then, there’s the issue of decorating, which can deplete your bank account faster than you can say, “I should have hired movers.”
Lately, though, a new crop of companies has emerged to make the moving experience slightly less terrible by allowing you to rent furniture and decor. Instead of pouring $1,000 into a couch that will only serve you until your lease is up, or a set of shams that you’ll get sick of after a year, you can now treat yourself to temporary home goods that you can get rid of the minute they stop serving you.
Considering millennials are moving more than ever before—in its most recent survey, the United States Census Bureau found that between 2007 and 2012, millennials accounted for about 24 percent of the total U.S. population, but made up over 43 percent of all movers—it makes sense that this type of no-commitment home decor has become increasingly popular. Add to that the fact that far fewer millennials are buying homes than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers were at the same age (37 percent versus 45 percent), which means the renters market is booming. With people getting up and going more frequently, the appeal of not having to schlep furniture—or hire movers to do it for you—every time is undeniable.
The sustainability factor is also worth adding to the list of reasons why furniture rental has begun to make the rounds among millennials. A 2009 report from the EPA found that furniture are the least-recycled items in a household, and that furniture waste makes up for 9.8 million tons (4.1 percent) of household waste. The furniture resale market, a la Craigslist and AptDeco, has done its part to help with this issue by making it easier than ever to purchase pre-owned furniture, but renting takes things one step further.
“Furniture rentals go against a business model that relied on manufacturing inexpensive, low-quality furniture that will probably end up in the garbage within a few years,” says Gavin Steinberg, founder of NYC furniture rental service The Everset, which allows users to rent furniture on a month-to-month basis. This environmental impact was exactly the impetus behind Ikea’s decision to begin testing furniture rental in 30 markets earlier this year, with the goal of ultimately rolling it out around the world.
And there are a number of companies that have followed suit. Everyone’s favorite clothing service, Rent the Runway, recently partnered with West Elm to offer curated bundles of pillows, throws, and bedding that RTR Unlimited customers can rent on demand and keep for as long as they’d like. It’s the perfect option for anyone who likes to re-vamp their space every few months, or who’s spending the summer in a sublet that they want to make feel like home without having to spend a ton of additional money in the process.
“Moving in itself is such a production, so it’s nice that RTR does the hard work for you by providing home decor that is stylish and affordable,” says Well+Good staffer Amanda Gaines, who recently moved into a new apartment and ordered an RTR package that came with a throw blanket, plus four pillow covers and inserts. “The pieces they sent add the perfect pop to my newly furnished living room. Decorating an apartment doesn’t come easy to everyone, so it’s nice that this service provides a sustainable yet stylish addition to any home that needs a little decorative refresh.”
“The process of furnishing an apartment is broken. It’s expensive, time-consuming, inconvenient, and inflexible, which is the opposite of how people want to live today,” says Steinberg. “We believe that as your life changes, so should your furniture, and that it shouldn’t drain your bank account to have a great looking place.”
Another brand, called Feather, currently operates under a similar model in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orange County. Per the company’s website, “Feather members have access to high-quality furniture at a low monthly price with the option to add, swap, buy, or return when life or tastes change.”
While these services are all still new, they’re a clear sign that times really are changing, and that maybe—just maybe—moving won’t have to be the worst after all.